Citizenship and Circumstances

Morality is the very soul of good citizenship.
Arcb. Ireland: American Citizenship (1895)

No better citizen is there, whether in time of peace or war, then the Christian who is midful of his duty; but such a one should be ready to suffer all things, even death itself, rather than abandon the cause of God or of the Church.
Pope Leo XIII: Satientiae Christinae (1890)

Circumstances are but the subject-matter, and not the rule of our conduct, not in any sense the cause of it.
Cardinal Newman: Oxford University Sermons (19th centurY

New Year Reflections – Reminders From the Past

When my husband was a teenager, he worked weekends as a dishwasher and cook’s helper at a local lodge. There was a big event one weekend and the owners hired an extra helper and asked my husband if he knew of anyone who wanted to earn some money. He volunteered his younger brother. During the course of the evening, my husband found himself short tempered and demanding of his younger brother. Nothing he did was right, he was too slow, etc. Meanwhile, the other kid hired for the evening was doing about the same job but my husband treated him with a lot more kindness and respect. Suddenly, he realized that he was only picking on his brother because he could but was being polite to a complete stranger. It brought him up short and he started thinking about how we often treat our own family less worthily than strangers. I suppose family can’t leave and we are stuck with each other . . . but that shouldn’t be the mind set. Now that he is a grown up with children, he always admonishes children to treat their siblings as strangers if they can’t find it in their heart to treat them like family. The first time he made this announcement, it stopped them short until he explained it to them. No, they still aren’t perfect children but they have come to realize who should be first in their hearts.

I remember a situation from my own childhood. I must have been around five or six and my mother, as always, was busy baking for some special event at our parish. She was known for her baking and always called upon or volunteered herself to help out. I had witnessed these frenzied baking sessions before and knew to keep clear of the clouds of flour and motherly muttering as she tried for perfection. The delightful smells and pretty cookies finally got to me and I quietly asked, “Mom! If you have a cookie that doesn’t look good or is burned, can I have it?” There was a sudden lull in the culinary storm. My mother sighed and a tear crept down her cheek and she handed me a little plate with several of her most perfect creations. She, too, had gotten lost in the process and, perhaps, the ‘fame’ of her baking. I guess I had made her realize that family should always come first.

These episodes in our lives seem to pop into mind around New Year’s and reminds me to share the best that I am with the people who mean the most to me in this life. My husband’s story reminds me to respect the ones who love me the most. No, I’m far from perfect but I’m remembering more often to try!

Feast Day of the Holy Innocents

The lust for power is bought in many ways. Every king on a throne does his best to neutralize or destroy potential threats to his ruling power. Power is not always a kindness. This was recorded early on in Jesus’ history on earth.

The Three Kings, who made the long journey to see the newborn baby said to be the King of the Jews, related the reason for their journey when they stayed with Herod, the Roman-appointed King of the Jews. Now, Herod enjoyed his appointment and would do anything to continue in that capacity. When the Three Kings told him they were seeking the newborn King of the Jews, he immediately went into planning mode to protect his title in the land. He asked the Three Kings to be sure and stop by on the way back to tell him where they found the baby so he, also, could pay homage. God, however, was in charge of this and sent an angel to tell the kings to return home another way and not confide in Herod as to the whereabouts of the Baby Jesus.
(The Massacre of the Innocents is at Matthew 2:16–18.)

These martyred babies in Bethlehem are known today as the Holy Innocents and their feast day in the Catholic Church falls on December 28th. In many ways, they can be considered some of the first martyrs as their lives were given up to try and find and kill the Baby Jesus.

Although the slaughter of the babies in Bethlehem should be an atrocity of the past never to be repeated in modern history, this has not been the case. Abortion murders every day and some of these babies are late-term and should have survived outside the womb. Their tender bodies are sold and experimented on by, in reality, heartless people.

The current attacks of radical Muslims are renewing this with their treatment of young children who are not of their Muslim religion. Young children are being tortured and beheaded. Little girls are being treated in horrendous ways. One could even go as far as to say that the politically correct agenda and the schools that are initiating classes in Sharia Law, etc., are a way of attacking the hearts and souls.

When we read the passages about the Holy Innocents, we shouldn’t take them as something that happened long ago. Instead it should move us to prayer for the ongoing persecution of the innocent that still happens today. The Feast of the Holy Innocents now has a lot more impact.

California Regulations Pending on How We Use Our Cars

It is getting rather scary how State politicians in California want to turn us basically into a big brother state when it comes to our cars. Transportation in CA is difficult to regulate fairly as due to employment issues, many have to travel a lot further than others to maintain an income that provides for their families. If the state starts taxing us by the mile, it eats away at necessary income and gives the state control over every mile we drive and where those miles take us. And, besides just the basic taxation on our drives to work, what about driving vacations up the coast, to Disneyland, etc. Seems such a law could impact all people and all businesses to an extend. Will the politicians get a ‘free ride’ because they use their cars for business while we are merely being extravagant in coping with our day-to-day life?

Christmas Isn’t Over Yet!

The saddest day of December 26h, to me, are all the discarded Christmas trees lining the curbs. Frankly, I can understand this as they are all dry and probably fire hazards . . . because many of them have been in place soon after Thanksgiving dishes were washed and put away. How lacking is a holiday putting the culmination of the Christmas event so far ahead of the goal. The decorations and outside lights have been up for weeks. Where is the anticipation of Christmas if so much of it appears before we have even made our way through Advent? And, now, Christmas is considered over and done for 2015 and we will probably start seeing Valentine candy in the stores within the week.

My mother was raised in Germany and their custom was that no child would even see a Christmas Tree until Midnight on Christmas Eve. The doors to the place where the tree would be were closed to excited children while they heard interesting sounds and rustlings going on behind closed doors. At midnight, the doors would open to reveal a tree sparkling with tinsel and candles. In my mother’s home, she had a few minutes to take in the glory and it was then off to Midnight Mass with excitement in the heart for the late night out, the beauty of the Christmas Mass, and a few thoughts about what would be under the tree when she got home.

Christmas continued from the 25th until January Sixth when the Three Kings paid an overnight visit and let some treats in her shoes to find in the morning. Between the 25th and and January Sixth was filled with visiting, tasty coffee parties, meeting up with friends, and exchanging gifts. December 25th was the beginning of Christmas not the end of a hectic holiday season.

The Christmas Cat

Buster Kitten wasn’t quite sure what all the fuss was about but enjoyed his first Christmas. He found the Christmas tree to be an endless source of colorful, shiny balls to bat around and when, inevitably, they fell down, they were even more enjoyable to chase through the wrapping paper.

In the picture, the worn out cat is taking a brief break from all his cat duties of Christmas morning. Another thing about Buster is that he is a born model. WE get out the camera and he loves to pose for us.

Bethlehem Hath Opened Eden!

“Bethlehem hath opened Eden,
Come! let us behold:
Sweetness we have found once hidden,
Pearl of price untold;
Gifts of Paradise all precious,
Stored within the cave refresh us.

Now the Maid her Infant bearing
Hasten we to greet;
He ere worlds the Godhead sharing,
Little Child so sweet,
Born within this lowly place
Stays the thirst of Adam’s race.”

Byzantine Menaea, Feast of the Nativity Canon at Matins, 6th century

Hear, O Thou Shepherd of Israel!

“Hear, O Thou Shepherd of Israel,
Who dost above the cherubs dwell,
Appear within Thine ancient home,
Stir up Thy mighty power, and come!

Come, and display a virgin birth,
Redeem the nations of the earth;
Let every age the wonder see:
Such life befits a Deity.”

St. Ambrose: Intende qui regis Israel 4th century